The New Jersey Devils lost another game on Monday night, and Timo Meier’s struggles were one of the reasons they left two points on the table. Yet, his benching in the third period should be the end of his punishment.
It’s been a rough start for the New Jersey Devils as a whole. After surviving the Detroit Red Wings on opening night, the Devils needed a huge comeback just to force overtime with the Arizona Coyotes. They lost in the shootout, and now they put their first regulation loss on the board. The Florida Panthers beat the bricks off the Devils for 40 minutes. After a comeback attempt came short in the third, the Devils finished the first three games 1-1-1.
There is a lot to blame for the rough start, but Timo Meier might be at the top of the list for players. He’s been pretty terrible. He has the worst CorsiFor Percentage (basically how many chances his line gets versus how many they allow) on the team, the worst high-danger chance percentage, and the worst xGA. (All stats from Natural Stat Trick.)
Meier was benched in the third period of the Devils comeback attempt with the Panthers. What’s actually bizarre is Meier hasn’t been on the ice for a goal yet at 5v5. That’s both for or against. He might be having a rough go, but only Nico Hischier (who’s also having a rough start) and Meier can say they haven’t been on the ice for a goal against at even strength.
Nobody would argue that Meier didn’t deserve to be benched on Monday night. He had two penalties called against him, and the Devils penalty kill is horrible right now. It’s even harder to argue for Meier when the Devils scored three goals with him (and John Marino) bolted to the bench. However, this should be the end of Meier’s punishment.
Some are calling for Meier’s benching for the next game against the New York Islanders. There are a few issues with that. For one, that game is on Friday night. That’s a long time to keep that lesson alive. A player like Meier should get the message with his third-period benching. Benching him for a game almost five days later seems like too much. If something doesn’t look right in practice, then maybe it makes sense, but right now it does not.
Timo Meier has already served his benching.
Also, Meier is still one of this team’s best players. He’s a 40-goal scorer who just signed a max deal for $8.8 million per season. It’s up to Lindy Ruff to get the most out of him. If he sits Meier on Friday, it would be the wrong coaching move.
On top of all this, we need to not overreact to the beginning of the season. It’s still just three games. If this happened in January, nobody would bat an eye. Because it’s early in the season, there’s nothing else to compare it to.
Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and Dougie Hamilton have been carrying the Devils offense so far. It’s a problem for the entire lineup. The Devils have three 5v5 goals this season. That’s terrible! It’s not just on Meier.
It’s been rough, we know. However, it’s not time to overreact. The Devils will get better. Remember, they are also trying to learn a new offense under Travis Green. It’s similar, but it still will have some kinks through the first few weeks of the season. The Devils haven’t lost a game by more than one. Meanwhile, other contenders (Oilers, Hurricanes, Wild) all have big losses on the books. It is what it is. Regroup and come back harder on Friday.